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By Camp America on 09/03/2018
In celebration of International Women's Day, we've got some amazing and inspiring stories from our female counsellors!
As a Camp America participant, you're going to be a role model to hundreds of girls on camp this summer.
You're going to encourage them to step outside their comfort zone.
Because of you, girls aren't going to be afraid to dominate the sports field and dance like nobody's watching.
They're going to get messy and forget about appearances.
Because of you, they'll be taught to be a team player. To show grit, spirit and passion.
But mostly, they'll be encouraged to be the best version of themselves.
YOU are going to inspire young females all around the USA to be fearless.
YOU are going to be a Camp America role model.
Check out our stories below and see the impact you're going to make this summer...
Sophie - Camp Favorite (2016+)
I went to Camp Favorite, a Girls Scout Camp, in 2016 and was originally hired as a general counsellor but became the CIT Director mid-way through.
I loved camp and it allowed me to know that I can love a job. It was such a wonderful experience that I’m returning this year as Leadership Director, which is exciting because it’s a new challenge for myself but also some of my campers during the Counsellor in Training programme are now staff! A highlight of the summer was the end of third session at camp. We were doing our awards ceremony before final camp fire and it was announced that a camper of mine, who would be joining me as a CIT for another 3 weeks won the Spirit Award. I burst into tears because of the most amazing week I’d had thanks to my counsellors I’d worked with and my campers- luckily I still had 3 weeks to go until I finished camp.
I would recommend the Camp America programme because it gives you a chance to be a role model but have fun and the summer of your lives at the same time. This year, camp is celebrating their 60th anniversary and to know I’m a part of that is incredible and I know if anyone else had the opportunity do so to, they would cherish those memories forever.
Camp helps girls become the best version of themselves because they don’t focus on what they look like, they focus on the memories, friendships and wonderful summers they are having.
The photo I’ve attached is one of my favourites. I’m on the left, with my friends Croaky and Chai. My camp name was Rabbit!
Katie - Independent Lake Camp (2017+)
Last summer I had the absolute joy of looking after the younger girls of camp. Although I spent a lot of time getting popcorn out their hair, applying 583 unicorn temporary tattoos, or covering every rule list or cleaning chart in glitter glue to make them seem more appealing I wouldn't change it for the world! At ILC, we have an event called 'Battle of the Sexes' in which the premise is to empower the girls and show their strength both individually and as a united front. This was a great platform to encourage the girls to be so proud to be female, and showed all the amazing things we could do. I still to this day get our "girl's have the power" chants stuck in my head that we sung at the top of out lungs in the dining hall! Seeing all of the girls supporting and cheering each other on during the competitions and activities made my heart burst. But as for my own girls, we really wanted them to feel comfortable going to their activities, no matter if they wanted to rock a bed head to tennis class or feel as pampered as a princess after our bunk 'braid parties'. I even let them do my hair a few times - who knew pigtails with fifty different rainbow scrunchies in would make them giggle so much?!
Receiving little presents, letters and pictures from campers telling you about how much they appreciated you at camp was one of the things that made all of the stressful moments worthwhile. The girls even nicknamed me 'Sunbeam', and knowing you are a positive and happy influence on these girls is something you take away with you and hold so close to your heart!
I'd recommend the Camp America programme to anyone and everyone, and I certainly have from the second my plane landed! It sounds cliche to say it changes your life, but I can hand on heart vouch for this. There is so many aspects of my life that relate to camp and so many stories to tell that you 'just had to be there' to understand. I can't ever imagine not going back to camp now, and I'm counting the seconds until I'm back.
Olivia - Trails End Camp (2016+)
I attended Trails End Camp, this will be my third summer as i attended 2016, 2017 and will be attending summer coming 2018 and I am a pool lifeguard!
Camp has taught me how to be a better version of myself. It has taught me how to be independent and to accept everyone and myself for who they are. There's nowhere else I'd rather be and I can't imagine spending a summer at home anymore.
This summer I was a counsellor in a bunk of 10 girls aged 12-13 (going into 8th grade). At that age, girls are very impressionable and I always do my best to help them believe in themselves and love themselves for who they are. We always ended our nights that I was on duty in our bunk talking about our day and laughing so hard. I never let my girls go to bed upset or worried about anything, we always sat up and talked things through no matter how long it took. I made sure they had the best summer of their lives with nothing but loving and good memories to take home.
One camper who will always have a special place in my heart's name is Kylee, she's 11 years old and is known as my 'camp twin' as at every opportunity she was joined at my hip. On our camp's 'halloween' night she even dressed as a lifeguard and had her hair in french braids like I did almost every day. She is the most loving little soul who has the biggest smile and amazing infectious laugh ever! Kylee was kind enough to write me a note as we left camp.
'Dear liv, if I could write how you made this summer amazing I'd be here forever, you were always there to make me feel better if i was sad. You always come and say good night to me and this made me feel so happy and so loved by such an amazing person. You made me so happy to stay at camp and you were there when i needed you or needed someone to talk to. I can't imagine a summer without you, bff.' - Kylee.
The Camp America programme has changed my life and I owe so much to them for helping me become the confident person I am today. I have met friends for life from all over the world and I can't imagine my life without our late night (time difference orientated) facetime catch ups and counting down the days until we're reunited again. There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish that I was walking off that bus at my summer home.
I really think that camp helps young girls become better versions of themselves as it gives them so many opportunities to grow as a person. Whether it's climbing the rock wall for the first time or water ski-ing on the lake they are constantly smashing out new challenges, conquering their fears and making themselves proud. I know that if I have a daughter, I'd love to send them to camp as I've seen first hand how it helps them gain confidence and grow as a person.
Amber - Camp Holloway (2016/2017)
Camp made me a part of something special, for one summer nothing outside the camp gates seemed to matter. Being away from home for such a long period of time was such a daunting thought for me and I thought I would really struggle with being home sick. However, camp gave me a family and provided a support system that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. It became a home away from home. It taught me about leadership, responsibility, problem solving, selflessness, putting my campers first, setting a good example and how in just one short week home much of an impact you can have on your campers.
I never actually realised how much I impacted my campers until I came home from camp. People who haven’t been to camp find it really hard to understand how much it really does impact your life. When I returned back to Scotland after travelling for 3 weeks I had 14 letters from my campers, which almost 2 years later I still write to them weekly. I actually met one of my camper’s parents while they were visiting Scotland for work and it was heartwarming to hear how much I had impacted their child and to hear how much they loved summer camp. A lot of the time you don’t actually realise how far the smallest bit of kindness can go such a long way. The memories you make with your campers last a life time. I think the most rewarding thing is to hear that you campers have submitted applications to become counselors at camp for the summer 2018.
When I arrived in the US, my camp organised for me to live with an American family to show us around the local area. My host family had a daughter named Genevieve who actually spent multiple weeks at Camp Holloway the 2 years I worked there. I was really grateful that not only was I her counsellor I got to spend time with her and her family on my weekends off. Genevieve can only be described as the perfect camper and demonstrates every Girl Scout trait both at camp and outside camp. I was so thankful that the last week of camp Gigi got her camp name (my camp gives campers a camp nickname after being at camp for 4 years).
Working at Girl Scout Camp meant a lot of the activities were in some way focused toward the Girl Scouts core values. I think the most important the campers leave camp with is the friends they will have for life. At camp it is such an amazing atmosphere, every camper is willing to help each other out. It is amazing being able to escape from the technology and be outdoors all summer which was so refreshing. I loved learning about all the traditions at camp that made camp even more magical for the kids.
I am so glad I pushed myself to apply, at first I was hesitant because I wasn’t amazing at any particular sport, my skills on my application weren’t anything out of the ordinary and I didn’t have that much child care experience. My friends from camp are the best some of my best friends in the world. In a matter of a few short weeks, I had gained a close-knit family that I can rely on for the rest of my life. Its crazy that if I hadn't taken the opportunity with Camp America I wouldn't have ever met them. I speak to my friends from camp every day and it breaks my heart when I have to say goodbye to them at the end of summer.
Lauren - Camp High Peak (2017)
I spent the summer of 2017 at Camp High Peak in Denver, Colorado. This was a salvation army camp for underprivileged kids. I was a general camp counsellor for the youngest girls at camp (ages 7-9).
Camp was such an incredible experience for me, it taught me so much about the impact you can have on kids when you are with them all the time, it showed me how some kids are so amazingly strong when they have been through a lot and it was great to see what an impact you could have on these kids in such a short space of time. Camp is an experience like no other with the bonds you form with the other counsellors and the kids, it definitely leaves an impression on you for a very long time and it makes you want to go back, before camp I heard the expression “you live 10 months for 2” and now I really believe that.
Being with the youngest girls came with its own challenges, these were young girls away from home for the first time, there was often a lot of struggle in the first few days to settle in, it was so important to be encouraging and loving towards them so they knew this was a great place to be. It was amazing to see how these little girls often so upset to be left at camp at the beginning of the week would transform into these confident little ladies having so much fun and getting involved in everything that camp throws at them.
I had a particularly experience with one camper who spent the first few days of our music camp crying and homesick, I was so convinced that we might have to send her home. However me and my co-counsellors did everything we could to make sure she was having fun and doing our best to distract her, by the end of the week she was having a great time, and told me she was glad she came, this was a wonderful moment for me, it is amazing to see the impact you have when the girls cry and don’t want to leave at the end of the week and talk excitedly about coming back next summer!
I would recommend this programme to everyone, its such a life enhancing experience, not only creating incredible friendships and having the fabulous experience of travelling around America but seeing the impact you have on these little lives, getting to give children from not always the nicest of backgrounds experiences they won’t forget.
I really do believe those young ladies going to camp year after year will be transformed, camp is somewhere where everyone belongs, where the society norms of looking as good as you can be dropped. Camp is a non-judgemental place where the girls get to be who they are, and they are loved for it. That is something very rare in their worlds, they are accepted at camp regardless and I believe through the experience at camp they will grow into amazing young women.
Beth - YMCA Camp Campbell Gard (2017)
Camp taught me resilience. It’s the best place in the world and you see magical things happen. I saw a camper with autism ride a horse for the first time on his last day at camp; it was the best experience of my life.
I had an amazing young girl called Felicia who attended three weeks at camp all together. She began with no confidence whatsoever, very reserved and shy. By week three she had made so many amazing friends and had developed a confidence she never knew she had. She gave me an amazing picture. I’ll never forget her, her bravery and determination was incredible and she taught me so much!!
Camp America has without a doubt been the best experience of my life. I have met the best people and grown so much as a person. I’m currently studying a Psychology degree, and being able to apply aspects of my degree within my leadership role in the special needs cabin is so great. I never thought id be 19 with the assistant coordinator job under my belt. I’ll never stop thanking CA for giving me this opportunity, and to introducing me to the happiness I feel at camp. It’s like home to me now.
I think the counsellors that the campers are surrounded by make a big difference to these girls’ lives. Being surrounded by positive, strong women is a massive influence, it works both ways. Being surrounded by young girls full of massive dreams and kindness inspired me massively. Cultures combine and girls unite and its the best feeling in the world!!!!
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